Zapata is the seat of Zapata County
and is located fifty miles south of Laredo
toward Rio Grande City
along US 83 and Hwy 16 on International Falcon Reservoir, which is the United States/Mexico border.
The townsite was relocated to higher ground upon the completion of Falcon Dam in 1953, when many acres of rich, irrigated farmland were inundated by the waters of the reservoir.
Zapata is the center of extensive oil and gas wells. In 1985 ranching continued to be a major industry in the area.
Zapata has attracted winter tourists and vacationers because of the mild climate and fine fishing in the reservoir. From 1978 to 1985 Zapata had an estimated population of 3,500. It had seventy businesses in 1986. In 1990 the population was 7,119.